Have you ever gone to reply to customer on social media and find yourself spending way too long figuring out exactly what to say?
Doing Google searches to check spelling so you can craft that perfect, witty response on Twitter.

Responding in real time and maintaining your brand’s voice is a challenge every company faces, especially when your customer base is enormous. Just ask this week’s guest, Melisa Chung. Melisa is the Global Digital Manager of Molson Coors, so she oversees not just one brand, but really more brands than what some of the biggest digital agencies in the world have in their portfolio.

On this show, you’ll learn:

  • How Molson Coors is able to respond to all customers on social media in under an hour, around the clock, every day of the year
  • How to determine whether a social media platform is right for your brand
  • Why getting likes and shares doesn’t necessarily translate to sales
  • And much more…

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Alex: Any social media effort could get traction globally but with the nature of Molson Coors business, it’s truly a global reach. It’s necessary that you guys have that perspective so that must be quite the challenge.

Absolutely, especially when we’re building out our global brands. In general, the online space is very global. There really are no lines that are drawn. When you have a brand like, Coors Light, for example, it’s available in so many different countries that really does blur it even more. If you have large properties like we do in the US and Canada, you do see that trickle effect from all other regions that have come into the space where we’re playing as well. So it’s really important we streamline and have our ducks kind of in a row on our side, so that we can provide the best and the most consistent experience to our users no matter where they are.

Alex: The beer industry is so complex. If you’re not in the beer industry, it’s hard to get your head around the different relationships between distributors and brands in different countries – how in one country brands can be under the same company, and in another market they can be competitors. I’m confused.

I get confused sometimes too. It changes so rapidly. We’re on the verge of ourselves so it’s never a dull moment that’s for sure.

Alex: What was it that made you gravitate toward digital marketing and social media in the first place?

I took my very first marketing class in high school and knew very early on that it was definitely something I wanted to get in to. It was creative, it was different from some of the things that we had learned previously in school. So when I graduated from University with a Business Marketing Degree, post graduation as I was kind of sniffing around for a job, I started listing off the industries and brands that excited me.

And then luckily for me, Molson Canadian was actually on my list because I’m based out of Canada. They were hiring for a social media intern at that time and that’s kind of where it started out. Social or digital weren’t at the top of my list when I was coming out of school but it was something that found me, and I’ve stuck around.

Alex: So you started as the social media intern and you are already the global digital manager, that’s quite the career path trajectory.

Yeah – it’s been a lot of fun. There have been some great opportunities to grow. It started off as literally one intern who was the voice of many of our brands with no processes around it. I was really lucky the team that I was on had visionaries who understood the importance of this space even though they may not have fully comprehended what exactly it meant. They wanted to take risks and try things out. We’ve definitely evolved since then, that was many years ago, and we’ve got a fully dedicated social media teams and agencies that work in tandem with our brands, and other kinds of the department throughout the businesses just to be able to create really great content and engage with our consumers.

The Evolution of Social Media

Alex: What have you seen to be the biggest transitions of social media between that time period, it’s almost the infancy of social media as crazy as that is, to what it is today?

There’s much more robust planning and processes that go behind it now. Before, it was much more reactionary and opportunistic. As you had a great idea, you would go and you would blast it out and see how it worked. It’s become significantly more comprehensive, not necessarily more complex, but a lot more things go into it now. 

That was the biggest change from my intern days, I’d post whatever popped into my head that I thought would be cool and interesting, and that would become the brand.

Now, social media is about:

  • What is the brand?
  • What is the voice that we should be convening on there?
  • What’s appropriate, what’s not, what do our fans what talk about?
  • What’s engaging?

Definitely, a lot more sophisticated that it was even just a couple of years ago.

Alex: What is it like having all the different brands that Molson Coors has under its umbrella?

We lose track sometimes…the number of profiles we have, and where our footprint is. That’s where it gets dangerous as well. And so we’re really looking to fine tune that and make sure that we’re in the spaces we should be playing in – and that we’re investing adequately within each one of those places as well.

Alex: How does your team assess a platform or space to gauge whether it’s something worth pursuing?

It ultimately starts with the brand, so it depends on the goals that they have, the objectives that they have, what the are looking to do, and we really build the strategy around that. It was very different quite a few years ago, people thought that this was a space you just needed to have a presence and at the time, that was true as well, but I think as brands became more sophisticated, as the space became a little bit mature as well, there are things that we’ve learned.

You can’t stretch yourself too thin – there are spaces and times which you shouldn’t be playing in a particular space, and it has to ultimately make sense for the brand. Typically that’s where we start, we take a look at what the brand is and what it’s looking to achieve.

Alex Oesterle: If I was a smaller brewery and I was assessing the market of the different social media platforms, where would be the best place to start out? Take Instagram, for example, do you look at the demographics that the brand pertains to?

There is a definitely a whole host of things we take a look at. We start with demographics, who we’re trying to target, where they are, do consumers really want to engage with us in that space?

And even if they have been engaging with brands in a particular space, does it make sense? What does that look like?

With smaller brands, the approach is typically very different compared to our larger, international brands like Coors Light or Molson Canadian, where we’re really are looking for the mass and scale in platforms, as well as having the capability for those deep one-on-one conversations.

It really depends on what the brand represents. If there is a little bit more of an artistic feel to the brand, and imagery is really important to it, then Instagram might be a great route to go. But it all starts with what the brand is trying to accomplish, and then we work backwards from there.

Social Media Process is a Big Part of the Process

Alex Oesterle: What are some the tactics that you implement, and the processes, to make sure you’re shooting the arrow where the target is going to be, as opposed to being behind the trend?

Process is a huge part of it. It’s the least sexy part about marketing and digital. But it’s very, very important to get that right. For example, we’ve got a set of communication principles that we go by, and that’s something we share with all of our brands.

Even though brands may each have a different strategy and a slightly different approach, these are things that we hold true across different platforms and brands. Some of those are built through industry best practices and some are based on the strategy in terms of how we’d like to move.

For example, one of the principles that we go by is ensuring we are always in the moment, or as close as we can be. So that means participating in complimenting our consumer’s experiences. So what does translate to from a process standpoint? It means our teams are always thinking about if and how they should engage with consumers.

Again, part of that planning process is about anticipating what’s coming ahead of time. But then also giving yourself a bit of space to know that things do pop up and we’ll need to continue to think through those. There often times where we have a really quick turnaround time, but if we do a great job in planning, we can anticipate it to make the process so much easier.

social media for global brands

In social media, you want to avoid chasing the shiny, and that's where process and best practices come into play.… Click To Tweet

Of course, we can’t plan for everything. There are moments that come up that can be a great opportunity, and sometimes we do miss a good opportunity to participate as a brand, which is okay too. In social media, you want to avoid chasing the shiny, and that’s where process and best practices come into play. 

Why Getting Likes doesn’t Necessarily Equal Sales

Alex Oesterle: It’s so important to know your brand before you get on to social media and to start putting out whatever is it that you think is appropriate at the moment, as opposed to posting cat memes that people may like but it doesn’t necessary build your brand.

Yeah, exactly. If we think about it that way, I can gain lots and lots of engagement by sharing cat memes, game of thrones memes, whatever it could be but at the end of the day did it help increase the awareness of my brand? Did it help me sell more beer ultimately? And the answers to a lot of those questions, a lot of the times is, no.

Unless your Purina and you’re selling cat food. It’s really about making those decisions that make business sense too. That’s one of the things we have to try hard not to forget. People think that digital is this completely different beast, and in a lot of ways it can be, but at the core, those marketing principles don’t change.

Alex Oesterle: How does social media fit into the larger overall scheme – whether it’s advertising on TV spots or whatever it is – how does it all mesh together?

It’s typically an integral piece of a lot of our marketing efforts, from both a campaign perspective as well as like an “always on” approach. We really do see that as two pronged. Our social media teams are embedded within the marketing teams, so they are involved in all of the conversations, from creative brief conception through to the end.

It becomes the heart of everything we do. We’re working really hard to make sure that digital and social media, isn’t in a silo and become an afterthought. It’s embedded in the way that we’re thinking about how we execute at all different levels.

Alex Oesterle: How do you make sure when you’re interacting in real time that everything that’s put out there is true to the brand?

In large part, it’s training. We spend a lot of time training whoever is going to be on the front-lines in terms of engaging with our consumers. There’s a lot that goes into play with responding: what our brand is all about, what the tone of voice should be, the do’s and don’t guidelines.

We also have massive directories and documentation of all the most frequently asked questions, and as new things pop up, we add them to that library. If it’s new issues or new things that we see bubbling up, we’ll try to tackle them right away and provide people with the correct kind of messaging. First and foremost is training. It’s key.

Alex Oesterle: Do you have any idea how any tweets get responded to on a daily basis?

I don’t have that number on hand. But again, if I look at Canada as an example, we typically try to respond within the hour, if not sooner. With Facebook, now you can take a look at the response rates and how long it takes for the company to respond to you.

That’s the interesting about social media as well – it’s opened the door to that urgency for people to want things now. We actually monitor our profiles effectively 24/7 and have people making sure that we’re getting to those important questions or concerns as they come in.

Responding to all tweets in under an hour

Alex Oesterle: Even on the weekends?

On the weekends as well, yeah. And it’s interesting for us because in the beer business, typically our time of consumption happens outside of office hours, and so we do leverage various kinds of agencies to help us support that. We don’t want our employees to work 24/7, obviously.

In the space, there’s the understanding that there are no office hour times anymore. A crisis can happen at any point in time and so our employees who are heavily involved with social know to keep an eye out, but they can rest easy knowing that we’ve got moderation agency helping us monitor everything.

We’ve got protocols in place where if things need to be escalated, we get a phone call versus just an email because we won’t hear it while we’re sleeping. Again, very robust processes in the back end to help us avoid any kind of issues that may come our way.

Alex: The processes required for that type of scale must be so incredibly well hashed out. Did you help put those together since you’ve been integral to the social media team?

I’ve worked alongside our social media team here in Canada, we’ve got a great senior manager who started off here a couple of years ago, as well. She’s really transformed the social media team from one person, or half a person’s job, to now where we have three community managers, an analyst, plus herself.

And they sit with the media department and report to the head of media. It’s really cool how that team has been built out. I remember back in the days when we had to really map out each one of these things and decide what constitues as level 1, 2, 3, 4, who needs to be called when, and how?

All of that was really manual at one point in time. Since then, we’ve implemented various tools that can help us manage that chaos and the administrative day-to-day. It’s made our lives that much easier.

Alex: Molson Coors is on Twitter, you’re on Facebook, Instagram…any others? And are there any social media platforms that you guys are excited about as a company or you personally?

Yeah. We’re on LinkedIn. Some of our brands have tested out things on Snapchat, and Periscope. There are lots of things that we like to dabble in and try out. I’d say, Facebook is obviously one of the places we’ve made the biggest investment, and video in general.

Those are the big ones. In terms of emerging platform that I’m excited about, I’m keeping my eye out on messaging. We know how integral that is to just about everybody, and so I’m seeking to understand how brands should or shouldn’t play in that space.

If it something that we ultimately need to move towards, be it dictated by the market, or dictated by brands strategies, how do we continue to scale up those efforts? With messaging it becomes that much more personal, and that much more urgent and timely.

Creating share-worthy content

Alex: Do you have an example of a really successful social media campaign or digital campaign that you’ve had a hand in?

Most recently, our “Anything for Hockey” campaign for Molson, Canadian, along with our “Beer Fridge campaign. We’ve got some great minds working on that stuff, where if you’ve got a really cool idea, our teams have been able to translate it into the digital world.

It starts with really great content. We’ve revolutionized our beer fridge every step of the way. The first one version was “Use your Canadian Passport” to be able to open the door. And those are the kind of experiences that people love to watch and engage in.

It’s definitely very passionate and patriotic in a sense. And we’ve done different variations of that which have shown up well in the digital space. In my role currently, it’s more about finding solutions that are sustainable and something that we can continue to evolve.  I’m less hands-on with the campaigns nowadays as I am with the back of the house.

I focus on the process with the integration of our traditional customer service teams into our digital mediums, and how they interact with our community managers and our agencies that are also in that space. How do we make sure that everything fits seamlessly with our drinkers so that they have a great experience no matter which channel they’re coming from?

Those are just small handful of all the really cool things that I get to either play a part in or watch unfold.

Alex: When you boil it down to the basic ideas, they’re drawing on something that your customers care about or think is talk-worthy?

Yeah. Shareable experiences that people can relate to. Things that are interesting, or entertaining, or emotional. Molson Canadian is one of those brands that can really tug on emotions, in Canada and in the spaces that they choose to play.

It’s understanding their consumers are irrationally obsessed with hockey. But how do we take that and turn it into something that makes sense for our brand to engage in and to participate in?

Alex: You must be spread thin on all of these different tasks and things that you need to do. Do you personally have any productivity hacks that you use aside from processes and systems?

I personally like to keep like physical notes, which I guess it’s kind of funny for somebody in digital. I love my notebook. It just makes it easier for me to remember things. I also love lists.

On the back of my book, I have lists, drawings, and drawings of lists. And sometimes I even just add things to the list that I’ve already completed just so I can cross it off. It’s a great way to reflect back on what I need to do and what I have done even.

Alex: Has there been a book on marketing or social media, or just business in general, that has really influenced the way that you approach the job that you do?

Yeah. There are probably two, and both are by the same author. The Tipping Point and Blink By Malcolm Gladwell. Those are really great reads. Both discuss external and internal forces and phenomena at play within the business world that you can use in your everyday work.

There are some really rich insights in both that are simple, easy to understand and easy to apply.

Alex: Thank you so much for your time, Melisa. It’s been the absolute pleasure hearing about how you have been so successful in your digital and social media strategies, and I hope to speak to you again soon. It’s been a pleasure.

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.




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